Seattle Post-Intelligencer: Disabled-access lawsuits plague businesses
Gary Walker was horrified when legal documents arrived at his small restaurant notifying him that he was being sued for violating the Americans with Disabilities Act, the federal law that requires wheelchair ramps and other features for the disabled.
Around the country, business owners, judges and politicians are complaining that employers are being hit with a spray of "drive-by" ADA lawsuits that they say are little more than shakedown attempts by lawyers hoping for a quick cash settlement.
Those who are covered under the ADA say the lawsuits are necessary to get business owners to make their buildings more accessible. Among other things, the 1990 federal law requires ramps, parking stalls and signs, and dictates the height of countertops, the placement of toilet grab bars and the width of doors.
James Lawson of Stillwater, Okla., who has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair, said such lawsuits are needed. He said he has filed 26 of them after talking to business owners and complaining to the Justice Department without results.
"Even though I'm in a wheelchair full time I still want to be independent and enjoy life to the best of my ability," he said. Lawson said he found his lawyer through an advocacy group for the disabled, and insisted: "I am in no way being used as a pawn by the law firm. I in no way profit from this. I'm an honorable person."
©1996-2005 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
An honorable person does not bring violence against people who do not agree with him or don't want to do what he wants. An honorable person would understand that one does not have a right to enter a business facility without difficulty. An honorable person does not use a third party to scare others into following his demands.
Mr. Lawson, you are not an honorable person by way of your demand that other individuals sacrifice to ease the problems created by your disabilities.
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